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When Should You See a Podiatrist If You Have Ankle Pain?
You cannot walk off ankle pain
Ankle pain, when it occurs, probably immobilizes you. You may try to ignore it, but the pain will limit your movement and make you miserable. That is why you need to get that ankle taken care of as soon as possible.
In the interest of getting the ankle treated quickly, should you see the podiatrist first? Or is it better to consult with another type of doctor, an orthopedist, for example?
In some cases, it is better to go directly to the podiatrist. The following are such scenarios.
1. A sprained ankle
A sprained ankle hurts badly, but strangely, many people wait for the sprain to go away on its own. They use home care to manage the pain and treat the sprain. And they hobble through life as they wait.
The reason this is a bad idea is that one cannot know if the ankle may actually have torn ligaments. Or, it could be that the injury is a fracture, not a sprain. To avoid turning a sprain into something more serious, the injured person should visit a podiatrist immediately.
Here is how the sprain might be treated:
- The podiatrist will diagnose the cause of the ankle pain with the use of X-ray imaging
- If the pain is found to be caused by a sprain, anti-inflammatory medication will be prescribed
- The patient will apply ice to the ankle at home as directed by the podiatrist
- The damaged ligaments will be supported and protected from further damage with an ankle brace
- The patient will be advised to rest the ankle by using a crutch to get around
- The patient will be asked to rest the ankle by elevating it when at home
If the ligaments are found to be torn, the podiatrist will have to repair them surgically
2. A broken ankle
Ankle fractures can happen because of an accident, a fall or as a result of overuse, as in the case of stress fractures. Some fractures are worse than others. With stable fractures, the bone remains intact and in place. With unstable fractures, the bone shears along the fracture, and it is very painful.
A broken ankle will be painful and swollen. The site of the break will be bruised and the foot may look disfigured. A person will be unable to put weight on the ankle.
A person who experiences a broken ankle should rush to their doctor or the emergency room. After the doctor confirms that the injury is a bone fracture, they will refer the patient to a podiatrist.
Here is how the podiatrist will diagnose and treat a broken ankle:
- If a patient goes straight to the podiatrist, the doctor will examine the ankle to determine its range of movement
- The podiatrist will also check for visual signs like swelling, bruising and deformity
- To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will take an X-ray of the ankle
- If the fracture is stable, the bone will be held in place with a cast
- If the fracture is unstable, the podiatrist will operate on the ankle and realign the bone on either side of the fracture
The fracture will take six weeks or more to heal. The cast or dressing will then be removed. Some physical therapy may be needed afterward.
Never ignore ankle pain
It is hard to get around with an aching ankle. So, do not sit around wondering why you are in pain. Find a podiatrist near you and treat yourself today.